How Crowdfunding Is Helping Show Off Greece’s Snowboarding Culture

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For better or worse, almost every country in the world has some immediate association based on name alone. France conjures up thoughts of fine wine, Italy has its cuisine, and so on.

Greece is known (and marketed) around the world as a top summer holiday destination. From May to September its beaches attract millions of tourists, and provide a major source of revenue for an otherwise cash-drained state. In all the rage that is the Greek summer tourism season, there’s another, lesser known fact about the country that’s overlooked.

It’s full of mountains.

With the rugged terrain around the country comes the opportunity for a winter sports culture to develop, and thrive. However, Greece, because of both its categorization as a summer destination, along with a lack of organization, and funding for non-traditional athletics, up until now it’s been somewhat cut out of the public eye for winter events. A group of snowboarders are looking to change all that though, and are using crowdfunding to document the country’s snowboarding community.

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What’s The Plan?

The concept is simple. Make a documentary film on Greece’s snowboarding community. Both the history of the scene, which has existed since the late 70’s will be covered, along with extensive footage of the country’s many mountain ranges which the makers of the film feel are ideal for pushing Greece into a more global spotlight. The piece is fittingly named “The Thing About Greece…A Snowboard Documentary”

Of course, documentaries don’t make themselves, and funding is required for the project. For this, the director of the piece Themi Lambridis reached out to the world through a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.

For those who might not be aware, crowdfunding is now seen more than ever as an effective alternative for investment in an array of ventures ranging from startups to media projects like this. Traditional investors, namely VC firms aren’t always approachable, and in instances where the main objective is a simple showcase of a specific market, in this case snowboarding in a place where the trade is almost unheard of on a global scale, it offers the makers of a project an important outlet to capital around the world.

Nice To Meet You

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To learn more about the film, we interviewed Themi, and had him talk about what he hopes to get out of the project, along with his general experience as part of a crowdfunding campaign, and the perks it might offer as opposed to traditional investment. Here’s what he had to say:

  • As the documentary alludes to even in the title, Greece isn’t really known for its mountains, and winter sports culture. For an outsider looking in, or someone considering a trip for snowboarding, what does the country have to offer?
Yeah Greece is definitely not on the beaten path as far as skiing goes. Nonetheless there are 18 ski resorts here, on several mountains over the mainland. You can also ski on Crete. The seasons are short, and the runs aren’t incredibly long, but New Zealand is almost identical, and they’ve done a great job at promoting winter tourism just by really evaluating and utilising what the DO have. 
  • How did this initiative get started? What motivated you to showcase the country’s snowboard culture on a scale like this?
I started snowboarding as a kid in Greece. After leaving to go to uni at 18, and not really coming back until I was 30, I spent time in some epic mountains all over the world. The one constant throughout my journeys was that people couldn’t believe we even get snow in Greece, much less that we actually have resorts and stuff. So for me, this is kind of a homage really. Showing the world, and Greeks, what an amazing playground we’ve got on our doorstep. 
  • The film mentions Greece having a snowboarding scene since the late 70’s. Besides heading to the mountains and shooting, is there also a look into the history of the sport in the country?
Yeah definitely, no sport would be where it is without the formative years. These are important to the story, and I’ve already shot a lot of the interviews with the pioneers here in Greece and I have to say, it’s a much more colourful history than I expected!
  • As a director, who has worked on other projects in the past, is this Indiegogo campaign your first attempt at crowdfunding a film? 
No, I had successfully raised money through Indiegogo in 2012 to produce a documentary about the Greek National Ice Hockey Team returning to South Africa for the world champs, after almost 30 years, where they had won a bronze medal in ’92. Before heading down to film it though I broke my neck, so I used the funds to make a documentary about that instead. It won Best Short Film at a New Zealand film fest, and travelled to several International festivals.  
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  • What do you make of the response you’ve gotten so far both from the local community and beyond? Has using a crowdfunding scheme connected you with individuals from places you wouldn’t have expected?
Crowdfunding is such an amazing tool you know. I wouldn’t have been able to connect with a fraction of the people if I didn’t have the campaign. I’d like to point out though, it’s not just an “easy way to make money”, you have to be vigilant and on it all the time. But if your idea is good and you can pass that on to the public, the reward is awesome! People have contributed from all around the world, literally!
  • Do you feel crowdfunding a project like this has any major perks as opposed to dealing with a more established funding source, or even a single private investor?
Crowdfunding is by far a more personable way of funding this, because you completely avoid having to mince down investors who might want to change or influence your film. Product placement, marketing campaigns and investor approval are all things that big funders would probably want in return. Crowdfunding lets you keep control and still offer some really cool perks in return.  
  • What do you want someone unaware of snowboarding in Greece to get out of the documentary?

I want them to consider coming here for their next ski holiday! 

  • Anything else our readers should know?
Nah I think that’s all good. 

Wrap Up

Crowdfunding is a valuable tool for any venture. The beauty is in the ability it offers to connect with individuals who share a common passion, and provide the backing needed to turn a simple idea into reality. Just a few years ago a campaign like this might have fallen on deaf ears, unable to garner substantive backing even through the local community. At this point though, Themi, and the rest of Greece’s snowboarding community have a realistic outlet to the world around them, and hopefully will be able to showcase the country’s winter sports culture to the world.

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